Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation

2010, Dr. Paul A. Keddy, Cambridge University Press

The ecology of wetlands is introduced comprehensively in this book, with a particular focus upon the environmental factors that create the different kinds of wetlands found on Earth, and upon the biological diversity within wetland ecosystems overall.

Read more below about this book dedicated to the ecology of wetlands around the world.

Reviews for Wetland Ecology

“Quite simply one of the best books about wetlands.” Jeanne Christie, Association of State Wetland Managers

“Every wetland ecologist must read this superb volume.” Mark Brinson, East Carolina University

“The closing chapter on wetland conservation is the best treatment yet available and should be required reading for all students of wetland ecology.” Mark Bertness, Brown University

‘… an excellent reference … this is a classical ecology text dedicated to wetlands, and it is written in a familiar, conversational manner. The text is clear and easy to follow with relatively little jargon, which allows the information to be accessible to non-ecologists, as well as the general public.’ Paul D. Brooks, University of Utah

“The book’s readability is smooth with lucid presentations of all topics, avoidance of unnecessary jargon, and the effiecient use of uncomplicated figures and tables to emphasize major points. I found it enjoyable to read and easy to comprehend.” Donald H. Les, University of Connecticut

Wetland Ecology book cover -- order this book about the ecology of wetlands from Amazon or Cambridge.

A guide to the scientific literature This is a concise guide to the science behind the book, an overview of the current scientific literature on wetlands, aimed at senior students and professionals.

Some guidelines for wetland conservation. Protecting wetlands is important. It requires wise application of science. This page is intended to help you protect wetlands.

A video introduction. Here is a 45-minute introduction to wetlands, to the book, the principles, and their applications. This talk was given in Denver back in 2018.

Where are the world’s largest wetlands? Here is a short introduction to the largest wetlands in the world.

Wetland ecology around the globe

The first chapter gives a concise overview of wetland ecology, while the next chapters deal with the most important environmental factors that influence wetlands, including flooding, fertility, herbivory, as well as many human impacts. See an overview of all chapters in Wetland Ecology.

The view is global in scope — from the Amazon River to the Tibetan plateau in the Himalayas — with examples from every major continent and wetland type to allow readers to understand how their region fits into global patterns.

Many illustrations and photographs show the biological diversity of wetlands: frogs, fish, flamingos, geese, dragonflies, diving beetles, turtles, alligators, carnivorous plants, orchids, and more have been added to this second edition.

A full chapter on wetland research methods (Chapter 12) provides important guidance for the advanced student or professional planning their own research.

Wetland restoration and wetland services each have an entire chapter, with examples from Louisiana, Canada, England, Europe, and Asia.

The clear chapter and topic organization support a variety of lecture plans, course objectives, and teaching styles. A list of review questions for each chapter is provided on this web page.

The book is based upon the latest scientific research into wetlands and their conservation from over 1000 publications and reports, and supplemental material is available on this web site.

A Chinese edition of Wetland Ecology is available from Higher Education Press in Beijing.

Essential reading for wetland ecologists

“The closing chapter on wetland conservation is the best treatment yet available and should be required reading for all students of wetland ecology.”

Mark Bertness, Brown University

Chapters: Wetland Ecology

The first eight chapters explain how wetlands are created. The next six chapters explore interactions between humans and wetlands, with a focus on conservation and sustainable use.

The full table of contents can be found here (PDF).

1. Wetlands: an overview

What is a wetland? The different kinds of wetland: swamp, marsh, bog, fen. The effects of flooding on soil, plants and animals. Secondary constraints. Services provided by wetlands. Causal factors in wetland ecology. Wetland classification. The Pantanal wetland in South America.

2. Flooding

More about the effects of flooding. The importance of water level fluctuations and flood pulses in wetlands. Some examples including the Mississippi River, the Nile River, the Great Lakes, beaver ponds and prairie potholes. Some effects of flood pulses on plants and animals in wetlands. The negative effects of dams upon wetlands.

3. Fertility

Some effects of nutrients on wetlands. Nitrogen and phosphorus are the most important nutrients. Low fertility increases biological diversity.  Orchids and carnivorous plants occur in infertile wetlands. The negative effects of eutrophication. The Everglades.

4. Disturbance

Defining natural disturbance. The importance of natural disturbance. Erosion along the Amazon River. Fire in the Everglades. Ice along northern rivers. Gator holes in the Everglades. Gap dynamics.

5. Competition

Defining competition. The importance of competition in wetland vegetation. Some experiments that measure competition: plants, amphibians, birds. Centrifugal organization and plant diversity.

6. Herbivory

Effects of herbivores. Some examples including muskrats, geese, slugs and rhinoceros. Plant defences against herbivores. Herbivory increase with net primary production. Predators and top-down control.

Wetlands covered in aquatic plants with floating leaves
Wetlands that are continuously flooded have aquatic plants with floating leaves

7. Burial

Rivers carry sediment downstream and build deltas. This process buries plants in sediment. Hurricanes can also bury wetlands in sediment. In peatlands, where decay is slow as a result of flooding, peat slowly accumulates and also buries plants, but the process is slow. The layers of sediment or peat in wetlands provide a record of past events.

Wetland ecologist Dr. Paul Keddy visiting the Manchac Swamp
Author Dr. Paul Keddy visiting wetlands in the Manchac Swamp, Louisiana (USA).

8. Other factors

There are many other factors that influence wetlands. Salinity has large impacts on coastal wetlands and estuaries. Roads have many negative effects on wetlands. Logs and other kinds of coarse woody debris have beneficial effects on wetlands. Different types of stream morphology produce distinctive kinds of wetland. Human population density is very important, particularly in countries with large cities and intense agricultural activity.

9. Diversity

Wetlands provide habitat for a vast array of plant and animal species. There are four general factors that control diversity. Selected examples of diversity: fish in tropical rivers, waterbirds in coastal wetlands, amphibians in ponds. Some general models for plant diversity in wetlands. Many rare and endangered species occur in wetlands.

10. Zonation

Gradients of water depth produce changes in vegetation known as zonation. Shorelines can be seen as a kind of prism. Some zonation is produced by physical factors. Competition also produces zonation. Rising sea levels produce distinctive changes in coastal zonation.

11. Services

Wetland provide many important ecological services. Wetlands have some of the highest levels of primary production in the world. Wetlands help regulate climate by storing carbon. Wetlands regulate the global nitrogen cycle. Wetlands support biological diversity. Wetlands provide recreation. Wetlands are part of human culture. Wetlands reduce flooding. Wetlands record history. A global synthesis of wetland services.

12. Research

Science has increased human understanding of wetlands. There are four basic kinds of information that science can provide. The limitations of species-based research. Empirical ecology. Assembly rules. Functional groups. Six tactical guidelines for future research.

13. Restoration

Wetlands can be restored to heal past damage caused by humans. The Everglades are an example. Removing levees from rivers. The Yangtze River in China has been heavily altered by humans. Invasive species are a serious threat to wetlands..

14. Conservation and Management

Humans have caused great changes in wetlands. Two historical examples: Mesopotamia and the Netherlands. The need for a global systems of protected areas. Indicators of wetland health. Global conservation of wetlands.

Wetlands Photo Gallery